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Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with a Spectacular Lunar New Year Performance! Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company at Omaha Performing Arts

January 19 @ 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

$10 – $36

Ring in the Year of the Dragon with Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company at Omaha Performing Arts’ Orpheum Theater – a spectacular experience for all ages, combining traditional Chinese celebration with modern flair. The Company dancers, acrobats and musicians will be performing in festive costumes in red, gold, blue and purple colors symbolizing their prayer for a peaceful and harmonious New Year with plenty of prosperity and good fortune for everyone to enjoy and share. Tickets are $10-36 and are available online at ticketomaha.com.

Immerse yourself in a festive production celebrating the biggest holiday in the world: the 2024 Lunar New Year of the Dragon. Firecrackers, cymbals and drums accompany the acrobatic dragon dancers and vibrant colors from the motions of the endless floating lines of fabric, costumes and props that are created by the agile dancers and warriors.

Choreographer Nai-Ni Chen has been making dances that bridge the richness of Asian artistic heritage and the dynamism of American dance for the past 30 years. In this celebration of the Year of the Dragon, her Company will continue in her memory, celebrating the Asian American perspective that is shaped by both cultures, and to recognize Asian American contribution to the diversity of ideas in our society.

In 2022, Nai-Ni Chen was a 2022 Bessie Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Nai-Ni Chen was a force in the dance community with her unique choreographic body of work that fuses Eastern cultural forms of Chinese dance and the Western world of modern dance. Her vision of the immigrant’s journey of crossing cultures and adapting to a new home provided endless inspirations and opportunities for creative expressions that enrich the human experience.

Presented in collaboration with the Nebraska Chinese Association.

About the Preshow Curtain Warmer

Ticketholders are invited to join at 6:40 PM in the Orpheum Theater lobby for a preshow activity. Vox Dance Collective will bring an interactive dancemaking experience to the Orpheum while sharing work from the Collective.

Additional Activities

Join the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company for two free dance workshops on January 17 & 18. To register, visit https://ticketomaha.com/Productions/year-of-the-dragon.

The program includes:

Lion in the City a new collaborative work by Hip-Hop legend Rokafella and Kwikstep with Company’s Director of New and Contemporary Dance Peiju Chien-Pott. This new lion dance integrates Hip-Hop movement and beats with traditional Chinese Lion Dance. One of the most popular dances performed in the Lunar New Year Celebration. The Lion Dance is a prayer for peace on earth as a child is able to play with a ferocious beast in harmony. There are many styles of the Lion Dance in China, and for 2023, the Company celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop, memorializing the pioneering spirit of Nai-Ni Chen, who began working with Rokafella and Kwikstep in 2017, developing a dialog between her contemporary/Chinese movement style and hip-hop. This dance was originally commissioned by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 2023.

Mongolian Harvest (Premiere) is a new work commissioned by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 2024 for the year of the Dragon. The Mongolian people are one of the five major races that make up the Chinese people (Han, Mongolian, Manchurian, Muslim and Tibetan). Mongolian Dance movements originated from the nomadic life of the people. Hand, shoulder and leg movements express aspects of Mongol herders everyday lifestyle such as milking the cow, cooking, hunting, household labor, customs and traditions, etc. This dance expresses the joy of the Mongolian people as they celebrate the completion of their herding season. Their movements are proud and broad, showcasing their powerful tradition and as they pray for abundance and prosperity.

Moveable Figures – Inspired by the art of shadow puppetry, Nai-Ni Chen created this work not only to celebrate this unique form of art, but also to bring the audience to the new world of wonderment that she experienced when she first met the shadow puppets. Movable Figures is also an experiment on expression within the body shapes and motion. Nai-Ni Chen wishes to bring the two dimensional art alive on a three dimensional stage.

Peacock under the Moonlight – There are more than 55 ethnic groups living in China, and each group has unique dances and music. The peacock is considered a sacred bird among the Dai people in the Yunnan province. Because of the performers’ supreme grace and elegance as peacocks, this dance is one of the most beautiful from that province. Many of the movements in this piece derive from real actions of the peacock, such as drinking water, walking, running, and grooming its feathers. The solo musical instrument for this dance: hulusi was originally used primarily in Yunnan province by the Dai and other non-Han ethnic groups but is now played throughout China. Like the related free reed pipe called Bawu, the hulusi has a very pure, clarinet-like sound.

Way of Fire is an exploration of the ancient Chinese theory that the cycles of creation and destruction correspond to the ever-changing phenomena of nature. The “Five” refers to the five elements: wood, water, fire, metal, and earth. The cycles are also used to mark the passage of time. For instance, this year is the year of the Wood Dragon. Each element, as part of the forces of nature, creates another in harmony and destroys another in conflict. This exploration focuses on the element of “Fire,” which is used to extract metal and can be destroyed by water.

Mirage – Inspired by the unique rhythms and dance movement of the Uyghur people of Xinjiang, Ms. Chen created a new movement vocabulary for this dance. Its tranquility and passion evoke the images of the desert area and the people who lived in oasis towns. The music for this dance was commissioned by the American Music Center which has been renamed New Music/USA.

Raindrops – The choreographer draws inspiration from her childhood memory of the Taiwanese city in which she was born, Keelung, also known as the Rain Harbor.

Coinstick Dance originated with the Hans in Hubei province and is traditionally done by street performers. People drill holes in the sticks, which are made of bamboo, and fill the holes with coins. Dancers hit the sticks against their bodies and the ground to produce interesting rhythms as they move, and they often incorporate acrobatic skills. Today, this dance is usually performed in groups of men and women during festival celebrations.

Dragon Festival is the most spectacular folk dance performed in the Lunar New Year Celebration – the Dragon carries auspicious powers and nature’s grace. The Chinese Dragon is a spiritual and cultural symbol that represents prosperity and good luck, as well as a water deity that nurture harmony. It controls rainfall, river and ocean. Dragon favors pearl and usually chases after it. In this dance, the choreographer first creates a big festival with numerous colorful props and fanciful dance steps. The dragon descends from heaven, blesses the earth. Blue flags symbolize water to bless for enough rainfall for the coming year. And colorful ribbons are a prayer for the prosperity of the community. For those fortunate to see this dance in the Lunar New Year, their coming year will be filled with peace, harmony and good fortune.

About O-pa

Omaha Performing Arts (O-pa) is steward of three landmark venues – the Orpheum Theater, Holland Performing Arts Center, and Steelhouse Omaha – with a fourth, the Tenaska Center for Arts Engagement, set to open in 2026. O-pa presents a wide spectrum of performing arts and entertainment, including Broadway, jazz, dance, comedy, family, popular entertainment, and live music. With a commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility, O-pa serves a growing audience in Omaha and the region through a broad range of education and engagement opportunities. As Nebraska’s largest arts institution, O-pa is recognized as a leader both locally and nationally.

About Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company:

Choreographer/Dancer, Nai-Ni Chen (1959-2021), was a unique artist whose work crosses cultural boundaries. Each of her dances reflect her personal vision as an immigrant and an American female artist with deep roots in Asian culture. From this perspective, she created new works that reflect current issues with global influences. Many of her works were developed in collaboration with renowned artists such as the Ahn Trio, Glen Velez, Joan La Barbara, Rokafella, The Chinese Music Ensemble and the New Asia Chamber Music Society.

Bridging the grace of Asian elegance and American dynamism, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a premier provider of innovative cultural experiences that reflect the inspiring hope and energy of the immigrant’s journey. The company’s ground-breaking works have focused on themes from ancient legends that reflect issues of the present time to purely abstract, contemporary dances influenced by a mix of cultures Nai-Ni Chen experienced in New York. An Asian American company that celebrates cross-cultural experience, the Company’s productions naturally bring forth issues of identity, authenticity, and equality.

The Company has presented at some of the most prestigious concert halls such as the Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida. The Company appears annually at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Queens College, the College of Staten Island and on Ellis Island. Internationally, the Company has presented at international festivals including Open Look Festival in Russia, the Silesian International Contemporary Dance Festival, the Konfrontations International Festival in Poland, the Chang Mu International Dance Festival in Korea, the Meet in Beijing International Arts Festival in China, and the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico.

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company has received more than 20 awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Advancing Dance Education, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is currently in residence in New Jersey City University pioneering a program with the University’s A Harry Moore Laboratory School teaching dance to urban children with disabilities. For additional Company information, visit their website, www.nainichen.org; write to Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, P.O. Box 1121, Fort Lee, NJ 07024; or call (800) 650- 0246.

Programs of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company are made possible by the generous support of our Board members, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF), the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, The New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund administered by the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation, E.J. Grassman Trust, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, New Music USA, the Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Dance/NYC Dance Advancement Fund, the Rapid Response Program of American Dance Abroad, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Cultural Exchange Fund, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, PSEG, Proskauer, WAC Lighting, and the Glow Foundation and the Dragon and Phoenix Foundation.


January 19
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
$10 – $36